Five Things: Friday Roundup: How do you say, “Sorry, the Pacific Ocean is closed for repairs?”

Photo by Kate Wentland, Crystal Cove Beach, CA Photo by Kate Wentland, Crystal Cove Beach, CA

Surprise calls for one to find a friend and debrief, shock elicits silence. Word of the spill from the platform Elly stopped our tongues. As the week passed, we could talk of clean up, and feel a flicker of hope for the environment.

1. Oil Spill.

Dead fish, oily birds that can no longer fly, toxic waters that poison the breathing life of the ocean, it is hard to conceive of the effects of thousands of gallons of gushing oil.  Conversations are bleak as we in Southern California face one of the natural disasters that follows from our addiction to fossil fuels. We need a wider conversation than our local grief-work. The 23 California platforms are a small sector of the aging towers that stand along the Gulf of Mexico. We have to talk, not with the empty words we know so well, but with a change in plans. Estimates run as high as 144,000 gallons of crude leaked out into our vital waters. We skim and scoop and stoop to clean the sand. Please can we talk?

2. Healthy Recipes.

After years of doing little about the truth of our vegetarian daughter’s clear witness and practice, or our granddaughters’ vegan preferences, or our congregation’s many studies that call us to give up animal protein, our own health issues nudge us to convert at the “fork in the road.” We are finding sugarless brownies with almond flour can be first off the plate, and we find we are not alone. We are swapping new recipes with friends and talking diet, not dieting, and eating well, with the emphasis on “well.” Good conversations.

3. Indigenous Peoples Day.

This we past Monday we celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day. Sunday the reading from VOICES offered guidance to remember in silence, the readings from Bartimaeus gave insight, and each day this week the LA Times has stirred our consciences. Los Angeles was not founded 240 years ago in an empty land. An important village called Yangna was erased, its memory expunged, its peoples virtually so. We talk of reparations, and they are slowly beginning in rare instances, but we are all complicit in Erasure. We must talk about this tragedy if we are to begin to take baby steps of reversal. May we ask, what is happening in your state, county, town?

4. The Invention of Nature.

Andrea Wulf’s bestselling The Invention of Nature is the biography our Peace Women’s Book Club read to understand why towns, counties, parks, bays, lakes, mountains and a river, just in America, elsewhere many other natural features carry the name of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), the world traveling scientist, naturalist, and polymath who forever shaped how we understand nature. If we had learned from his best insights, we would not have made such an awful mess of our environment and out planet. They keep bringing his ideas up in all kinds of conversations.

5. Jesus and John Wayne.

The byline of this book by Calvin College history professor, Kristin Kobes Du Mez reads: “How white evangelicals corrupted a faith and fractured a nation.” Her seventy-five year analyses of American Evangelical Church History reveals that it is less ecclesial and more political and cultural history that must be faced squarely. The central proposition is that in three quarters of a century, Evangelicalism has replaced the Jesus of the Gospels with an idol of rugged masculinity and total commitment to nationalism. One reviewer states frankly that the election of president 45 was Evangelicalism’s greatest victory. The copy we are reading is from a loan of a loaned book that will soon get loaned again. And the quoting of Du Mez will go on and on, with sadness, sometimes with the horror of hearing how easy it is to sell one’s soul and how little one gets in return.

David and Leann Augsburger

David and Leann Augsburger are two semiretired people (CA school psychologist, Fuller Seminary professor) who co-lead a home-based church (Peace Mennonite Church,Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care and connect people in the San Gabriel valley. Read More

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